“A European antitrust probe into the pricing of Apple Inc.’s iTunes music downloads service could force the music industry to unravel the complex web of intellectual property agreements which allow music to be sold across the world, experts say,” Jessica Hodgson reports for MarketWatch.
“The investigation, which comes a day after Apple and EMI Group PLC said they have agreed to scrap digital rights management (or DRM) copy protection, opens up a new area of uncertainty for the industry, still fighting to contain piracy and to persuade consumers of the merits of buying music on the Internet,” Hodgson reports. “But some argue that the move could ultimately prove to be the catalyst the beleaguered industry requires to force a shift towards a genuinely open global market for digital music.”
“The Commission wants consumers to be able to shop around for the best prices for music downloads across Europe and objects, for example, to the fact that digital downloads in the U.K. and Demmark are more expensive than elsewhere in Europe. In a statement an E.U. spokesman said the focus of the investigation was primarily on the record companies who, he said ‘imposed’ variable pricing arrangements on Apple.”
Apple, whose iTunes service accounts for almost 80% of digital music sales worldwide, said in a statement Tuesday it had always wanted unified pricing but the music companies had advised that there were legal bars to operating an easier system,” Hodgson reports.
Hodgson reports, “Paul Jackson of Forrester Research says that although the E.U.’s stance could force the music industry into painful and complex negotiations, it may ultimately pave the way for a shift towards a genuinely open global market for digital music.”
Full article here.
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